Who says teachers can't make a million bucks? Deanna Jump is a first-grade teacher in Georgia who made $1 million by selling her upbeat lesson plans -- to other teachers.
She’s now among 15,000 teachers nationwide to cash in on their creativity by promoting original materials through TeachersPayTeachers (TpT), an online marketplace to help educators share and sell resource materials, site founder Paul Edelman says.
Edelman characterizes his site "sort of like an eBay or an Etsy for lesson plans, units, activities, projects, exams, PowerPoints, smartboard activities."
He started the site in 2006 as a way for teachers to help teachers -- and earn some extra cash. "Even if a teacher is just making an extra $50 a month, it's a significant boost to their meager salaries," Edelman said in an email to NBC News, adding "our sellers find great pride in the fact that other teachers are using their ideas in classrooms around the country and world."
Today, the site has about 1.1 million registered members and has earned about $14 million so far, Edelman told NBC News.
"It’s a place where teachers who love curriculum development can open up shop and sell their materials to teachers who thrive on delivery more than creation. It’s symbiotic and elegant," said Edelman, a former New York middle school English teacher who now lives in Fontainebleau, France.
In August, the company grossed $2.5 million in sales, up from $305,000 the year before. Teachers pay $59.95 for an annual premium membership fee to sell materials on the site, with the agency taking a 15 percent cut of most sales, according to Businessweek.
Similar sites are popping up on the Internet: WeAreTeachers, another online community for teachers allows educators to chat and exchange ideas and win cash and prize and Udemy, a site for online classes, recently announced 10 of its teachers had earned a combined $1.6 million over the last year, according to TechCrunch.
Jump never dreamed of raking in the cash, she told Businessweek last month. For years, the 43-year-old educator and her husband, also a teacher, struggled financially, barely making enough to pay the bills in their town of Macon, Ga. She teaches at Central Fellowship Christian Academy, where she earns about $55,000 a year.
Attempts by NBC News to reach Jump were unsuccessful Tuesday.
She decided to use TeachersPayTeachers about three years ago after much urging from a fellow colleague.
“My units usually cover about two weeks’ worth of material,” Jump told Businessweek. “So if you want to teach about dinosaurs, you’d buy my dinosaur unit, and it has everything you need from language arts, math, science experiments, and a list of books you can use as resources. So once you print out the unit, you just have to add a few books to read aloud to your class, and everything else is there, ready to go for you.”
Within two years, Jump earned her first million by creating 93 separate lesson plans and selling 161,000 copies for $8 each.
While she's made a hefty amount, two teachers have sales over $300,000 and 23 others have sales over $100,000, and most of that money was earned over the past 18 months, Edelman said.
Jump told Businessweek in September her new wealth hasn't changed her, or her lifestyle, but has given her a source of financial relief. She has paid for her daughter's college tuition and purchased a special van for her quadriplegic brother, she told Businessweek.
“When I realized that we could buy that van and it wouldn’t be a financial hardship for my family, that was really something,” she told Businessweek. “But we really haven’t changed our lifestyle. I drive a Kia, okay? I’m just trying to keep it real.”
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